The Williamson County school board voted to end their mask mandate after Governor Bill Lee passed the new COVID legislation. The school board reportedly voted Friday evening but met Thursday night to discuss the possible outcomes of their mask mandate following the signing of the new COVID legislation.
The Community Impact Newspaper reported that Friday evening, parents received an email from the Williamson County School Board Executive Director of Communications Carol Birdsong.
The email stated:
As you may know, the Tennessee State Legislature met in special session late last month and passed legislation that eliminates our mask requirement based on the number of positive cases in our community. The governor signed the legislation into law late today. You may also recall that we were under a federal court order to require masks. While that case remains active, the terms of the current temporary order do not conflict with us following this new state law. Effective immediately, the mask requirement is no longer applicable for students, staff, volunteers and visitors in Williamson County Schools.
During the Thursday night meeting, Wilson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden said that in August, the board had voted to mandate masks until mid-January of 2022. Golden said that when the board voted in August of this year, “the next day, on August 27th, we hit our peak in COVID numbers.” Golden said that over 500 students had tested positive for COVID, and after the mask mandate, by October the number had dropped to under 100.
Golden continued that since Governor Bill Lee “had suggested to the media that he might sign that bill tomorrow. Under the terms of that, we would then have the responsibility to not require masks to be in compliance with the state law… The mask requirement could perhaps be lifted the day of [the Monday] evening meeting.”
Originally, the board members agreed that if Governor Lee did not pass the bill on Friday, that during their Monday night meeting they would vote whether or not to lift their mask mandate.
Board member Josh Brown asked, “So then technically, there’s nothing that this board is required to do on Monday night of the board meeting in response on this particular matter? There’s nothing that we would be required, no action that we’d be required to take?”
Superintendent Dana Ausbrooks clarified that the board should still meet so that the board would not be in violation of the state law.
“And certainly, we want to continue to encourage masks,” Golden added, “and we’re going to make sure that we’re very respectful of those… students with disabilities who need an accommodation.”
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